Updated: Feb 12, 2022
The SA Nationals will insist on two key health measures being implemented by the South Australian Government, should it’s members hold the balance of power in the South Australian Parliament’s lower or upper houses after the State Election on March 19.
Joined by Federal Regional Health Minister Dr David Gillespie to announce their health plan, the South Australian Nationals outlined two programs that will aim to supercharge South Australia’s regional health workforce and improve the state’s ailing health infrastructure.
SA Nationals President Jonathan Pietzsch said both Labor and Liberal had made numerous promises on regional health prior to each State Election but had never delivered the goods.
“Both Liberal and Labor have always been Adelaide-focused. You only need to follow the money. Labor drained resources out of the regions to pour into Royal Adelaide Hospital, and now the State Liberals want to invest precious taxpayer resources on city stadiums,” Mr Pietzsch said.
“There is a crisis in health care in Regional South Australia. Both Labor and Liberal have failed to come up with the suite of policy measures needed to keep doctors, nurses and allied health professionals in the bush.”
The South Australian Nationals have today announced two programs to significantly improve and transform health services. The measures include:
A $400-million Regional Health Infrastructure Improvement Fund – to upgrade hospitals and health services across regional SA.
Structural changes to Regional Mental Health policy – expansion of the Acute
Inpatient Mental Health Services beyond the present 3 locations to a minimum of one in each of the 6 Regional Local Health Services
Community rehabilitation services to be based in all 6 Regional Local Health zones up from the present 1.
The establishment of a dedicated Rural and Regional Hospital transfer Coordinator’s office to be responsible for liaising between Country Hospitals and bed flow managers at relevant City Hospitals. This will take pressure off ramping at city hospitals and reduce fatigue on regional volunteer ambulance officers who are often called on to undertake the transfers.
Continued funding and expansion of the Community Paramedic Program, enable Intensive Care Paramedics to complement regional health service within communities and clinically support volunteer ambulance teams.
SA Ambulance Volunteers expansion of local regional recruitment, increased support with face to face training, generated pathways to Paramedicine for volunteers in regional areas and fully funded scholarship program exclusively for regional and/or indigenous students into a regional paramedic position.
A $100-million Regional Health Hubs Fund - to support the establishment of Regional Health Hubs that develop partnerships between general practices, rural hospitals and pharmacies in regional SA to build a viable health workforce. The Fund will include several initiatives including:
Funding to establish up to 20 Regional Health Hubs.
Funding to support the employment of Rural Generalists based in regional SA who work in both general practice and the local hospital. Rural Generalists are highly skills GPs who have additional skills to support hospitals including obstetrics, emergency, anesthetists.
Continued extension and improved funding to support the professional development of rural generalists who would also receive a co-appoint by SA Health to both their local hospital and a tertiary hospital.
Funding to support the appointment of nurses and other allied health professionals within the Regional Health Hub and to maintain their professional development.
Funding to support professional assistance, course subsidies and upskilling of pharmacy staff to address the underlying skills shortage in pharmacological care exacerbated by COVID.
Introducing the plan, SA Nationals spokeswoman for health, Lisa Sherry, said the two funds would complement each other.
“Much of our health infrastructure in regional SA is in desperate need of an upgrade and we need to ensure these facilities have the capacity to deliver the services regional South Australians quite rightly expect and deserve. Improving the infrastructure and supporting general practice will ensure spending more and more money on expensive locum programs and diverting patients to Adelaide is not the answer to addressing the rural health crisis.
Making wise investments in strategically targeted measures will ensure we have the doctors, nurses and allied health professionals staying and working in regional SA.”
The SA Nationals also welcomed the Federal Government’s funding of $60-million over the next three years to support the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program in regional SA.
“The boosting in regional training initiatives and the increased investment by the Commonwealth in the three South Australian universities that are educating our medical, nursing and allied health students is certainly welcome and dove tails very well with our policies, particularly the Regional Health Hubs, which help build Centres of Excellence in Rural Health and Training,” Ms Sherry said.